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|Trail Map||Hike it with Google Earth||Trailhead and Markers Gallery|
|Distance: 3km||Time: 2 hours||Difficulty: Easy|
|Ascent: 65m||Upper Parking Lot||Upper Parking Lot|
It’s Tel season at Hiking the Holyland.
Now that the COVid-19 restrictions have been lifted, we’re starting up right back where we left off. Before our extended vacation, we had been checking every Tel we could find off of our hiking to-do list.
We visited Tel Azeka and Tel Maresha. We circled through Tel Tzafit. And we found that all of these short little hikes over hilltops were perfect trails for kids. They were short and sweet – and really educational.
That’s because every one of these hillocks (Tel=hillock) is actually the piled up remains of an ancient city– which make them great places to learn about history and archeology. At the same time, these hills tend to be covered with green grass and flowers. So, they’re just the place to experience nature at its finest.
This week, we took a hike out to Tel Gezer, on the outskirts of a beautiful community called Carmei Yosef. Tel Gezer more than met our expectations – it was just as fun and beautiful as all the other hilltop walks we’ve been on.
Here’s what we saw on our walk around Tel Gezer:
Golden Grain and Lavender
There are two ways to hike Tel Gezer. Hikers can park at the bottom and take a short walk up to the top of the hill before walking around. Or, there’s a road up, with parking at the top.
We parked at the bottom, under a tree. On all sides were tall grasses and fields of wild grain. Up ahead lay the path to the top: a slow ascent through golden grains and wild sage, blossoming in soft shades of purple.
We tackled the ascent at an easy pace. On the way, there were so many things to see: beautiful views out to the surrounding area down below, and legions of black and white butterflies flitting from flower to flower.
It seemed that we may have missed the height of flower season at Tel Gezer (it was probably at its best while we were all on lockdown). But our hearts felt light and free – we were finally back to exploring the Land. And it was spectacular.
Home School Continued
Over the past several weeks, we’ve gotten pretty good at teaching our kids at home. Up at Tel Gezer, we were able to continue their extracurricular education. The Tel wasn’t only beautiful, it was also full of archeological discoveries and informational signs, with a neat pathway leading between stopping points.
We learned that Tel Gezer was an a very ancient Canaanite city. It was first mentioned in the Israel Stele of Pharoah Merneptah. After that, the city of Gezer can be found in the books Joshua and Kings, then again during the reign of the ancient Greeks.
At the first lookout we saw a replica of an ancient calendar engraved on a stone found at Gezer. The calendar, from the 10th century BCE is considered to be the oldest ancient Hebrew document ever discovered!
Tour Through the Ages
All of this, and more, makes Gezer a pretty important place archeologically. But that didn’t make it any less beautiful. As we walked, we marveled at the overgrown beauty all around us. Tall white flowers (known as garden carrots, ‘gezer ha-gina’ in Hebrew) popped up all over the place.
The path led us past different soft shades of yellow, white, and purple. After checking out an active dig site and an ancient city gate, we were ready to stop for a picnic and enjoy our surroundings.
Taking It In
The hill was so full of tall flowers and reeds that it took us a while to find a place to sit. Eventually, we found a clearing and a flat stone, right above a cascade of purple blossoms that descended along the side of the hill.
Eating lunch atop Tel Gezer, it felt like we were really back to normal life. The clouds, once puffy and white, had now turned a deep shade of grey which made the colors of the wildflowers even richer. While we ate, my boys took up a game of fetch with our border collie.
A warm weather breeze blew through the reeds. And then the thunder began – rolling in a quiet rumble from the distance. It felt nothing like a typical spring day in Israel.
Suddenly, the rain clouds burst. A shower of droplets poured down from the sky.
Luckily, we were prepared for the weather – with packable rain jackets and waterproof footwear. We covered up and finished our picnic, then packed up our bags again just as the rain turned into a torrential storm.
It seemed like our tour of Tel Gezer was at and end. But just as fast as the rain had intensified, it quieted down again, turning into a gentle drizzle that was perfect for walking through.
Happily, we slowed our pace – we still had a lot to see.
As we walked back around the hill, we reached a standing stone circle, and an ancient stone basin – once used for religious rituals in Canaanite times. My kids had never seen anything like it in Israel.
After the ancient temple, we climbed atop a Sheikh’s tomb – which required an explanation as well. Then we climbed back down into the sea of purple and yellow wildflowers that covered every spot on the hill.
Reunited with Nature
As we finished up our journey around Tel Gezer, we reflected on what a great hike it had been. The trail was short enough for kids, beautiful enough for adults, and interesting enough for everyone. Some of my kids asked if we could go on another hike instead of going home. (In case you’re wondering, that doesn’t usually happen!)
At Tel Gezer, we discovered an awesome combination of nature and history, all mixed together in one family friendly walk. This easy hiking trail is full of rich history and stunning natural beauty.
Here’s what you need to know before taking this hike:
- This is a short and easy walk – it’s great for kids. The ascent at the beginning is not hard. But if you’d rather not walk it, park at the top of the hill (Waze points up above).
- Suitable for dogs.
- No facilities on site.
- Best suited to fall, winter, and spring.
- The trail is easy to follow. Signs are posted at the site.
- There is no shade on top of the hill. Make sure to bring a water and a hat, especially on a sunny day.
Don’t forget to read my guide to the navigational features in this post before you hit the trail!
Trail map from Amud Anan.
Questions? Have you hiked around Tel Gezer? Let’s hear about it in the comments!